LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – "It was just what needed to be done."
That's how Elizabethtown Police Detective Chase McKeown describes his actions, as well as those of his wife, Officer Nicole McKeown, when they stopped an accused robber at a Raising Cane's restaurant in Louisville's Highlands neighborhood on Saturday. His comments came during an informal news conference held at the Elizabethtown Police Department Tuesday morning to recognize the officers.
The off-duty officers with the Elizabethtown Police Department had only been married for six months, when they decided to visit the Raising Cane's restaurant in Louisville for a date night.
"At our church, we've been focusing on marriage," Chase McKeown said, adding that his church emphasizes having a "date night" once a week. Nicole said the decision to eat there was a no-brainer, as it was the first place they ate after their wedding.
But both officers say they didn't expect what happened next. According to an arrest report, 30-year-old Justin Carter walked into the restaurant wearing a mask. Police say he pointed a gun at the cashier and demanded cash.
"I think we kind of both saw him at the same time," Nicole McKeown said. Knowing that it was flu season, Nicole says she thought at first that Carter might be sick, but as she continued to watch, she realized there was something more sinister happening. That's when she turned to her husband. "I looked at him and said, 'That's kind of odd.'"
Both officers realized the restaurant was being robbed.
Nicole said her husband Chase was going to take Carter on by himself, so he handed her his cell phone and told her to call 911 – but she wasn't about to sit on the sidelines.
"No -- I'm gonna help my husband!" she said.
Surveillance video shows what happened next. With weapons drawn, both officers rush to confront Carter. He can be seen dropping the weapon and running out the door, but the husband and wife duo pursued him. They held him at gunpoint a few blocks away until LMPD officers arrived to arrest him. Carter has since pleaded not guilty to robbery, receipt of stolen property and being a felon in possession of a gun.
Det. Dan Mason of the Louisville Metro Police Department's Robbery Unit applauded both officers for their bravery, saying they acted "honorably and heroically."
"We are police officers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on or off duty."
A representative of Raising Cane's was on-hand to thank the officers.
"We are extremely blessed that they chose to dine with us," she said, adding that, "It's because of good people like Chase and Nicole who give us good hope for tomorrow…we'll never be able to thank them enough."
For his part, Chase McKeown said the attention was a little overwhelming.
"Maybe it's the term 'hero,'" he said. "We don't feel that way. We just feel like our training kicked in."
Nicole said there's a pretty good chance they'll be enjoying Raising Cane's again.
"Oh absolutely," she laughed. "I love Raising Cane's."
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